Reviewed by Emma Horak
Content Warning: Mention of Violence and Sexual Assault
There’s an old saying that goes: “Sometimes all the words in the world can’t describe what you’re feeling.”
This is a beautiful thing when you see a performance that reminds you that words sometimes aren’t sufficient to describe a sensation or experience. Watching Takatāpui, the one-person show by Daley Rangi, was that reminder for me. Rangi’s amalgam of lyrical word, song, and dance makes for an electric, potent, and punchy show; and their weapons of choice for delivering such a charged performance? A microphone, voice processor, and killer pair of heels.
Takatāpui is best described as a heart laid bare, as Rangi grapples with trauma born from the multitude of injustices sewn into the systems of our society.
The show follows them preparing themselves for a fun night out. However, instead they are confronted with cruel acts of violence, ranging from slurs flung at them on a train to a date that ends with malevolent control. Rangi’s lyricism in explaining the evening creates a visceral insight into the plight for expression and identity that navigates complex subjects such as colonialism, transphobia, bigotry, and connection to culture with an unadulterated sincerity in its fifty-five-minute run-time.
Rangi occupies the performance space brilliantly to tell their tale. Though the performance’s blurb conceptualises them as ‘perched on a toilet’, the show I viewed features a high desk and seat, from which Rangi weaves their spoken word piece with Imogen Heap-esque loops of acapella for goosebump-inducing effect. As their recollection of the night grows darker in nature, the addition of biting humour, atmospheric music, and interludes of performative dance make for an extremely human and intimate experience.
Takatāpui is the kind of show that stays with you long after you exit the performance space. Though at times unflinching in its recount of sexual harassment and assault, both are handled with care and provide the grim slap in the face needed by contemporary audiences to remind us that, in a society that claims itself to be egalitarian, spheres of personal identity are still parlous and at times dangerous to navigate for so many. To traverse such complex topics demonstrates the vitality of the Arts, and their ability to move past the barriers that remain in place for the spoken word.
Takatāpui is presented by the Blue Room.